The Kippah of All Kippahs
Ennis Olson and his partner Ken Rosenbaum had been together for eight years when Ken popped the question at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans through an 8-minute video of music he made with Ennis’ brother honoring the many years, stories and inside jokes of their relationship.
The newly engaged duo toasted their love and launched into planning a wedding that would showcase their style and their relationship. “We joked about having a Jew-ish wedding,” laughs Ennis. “We didn’t want there to be a lot of tradition to it. We wanted to create our own experience with a nod to Ken’s heritage.”
One of the ways they did that was by wearing kippahs — a brimless cap worn by men in the Jewish community.
“When it came to what we were going to wear and how we were going to craft the experience,” Ennis explains, “we wanted it to be a reflection of both of us.”
So, Ennis and Ken had custom tuxedoes made for the wedding party along with navy blue suede kippahs adorned with silver trim and je t’aime — “I love you” in French — stitched on the back.
Ennis wanted to create something wholly unique that blended his love of nontraditional jewelry and non-Jewish upbringing. He was inspired to design a sterling silver kippah by a pressed brass bowl, a gift from Ken’s sister, that was the same size and shape as a kippah.
Finding just the right person to make the sterling silver kippah took Ennis through a search of San Francisco silversmiths. Biro & Sons kept coming up, so he reached out to see if the company was up for the challenge.
“We love helping people create something from the heart,” says Rick Biro. “It was fun to help Ennis bring this to life.”
The Biros and Ennis started with a cloth kippah for general design and sizing purposes and then moved into designing a sterling silver piece that would fit and feel just right.
“We were most concerned with the contours of the kippah,” Rick says. “We paid careful attention to how deep the dome shape was so that it fits properly. We used the cloth kippah as a model and created a plastic form. We did a practice piece using copper that came out right, so then we spun the sterling on that form.
“We used a specific gauge of sterling to make sure it came out just right,” Rick continues. “The silver couldn’t be too thin or too heavy. It came out very well.”
The biggest challenge, of course, was attaching to the piece to Ennis’ head.
They collaborated on different ideas for how this could be done, thinking they had it solved until Ennis showed up with a new haircut that he got for the wedding!
Ultimately, Ennis attached a suede kippah to the sterling kippah with industrial Velcro. This enabled him to bobby pin the suede kippah to his hair, which held it in place the whole night.
“When I saw the sterling kippah for the first time it was unbelievably beautiful and perfect,” Ennis says. “It was exactly what I had envisioned. Even the hand engraving was exactly the way I had drawn it on my iPad. It was absolutely stunning. It’s just this beautiful piece of art.”
And the beauty of this piece was not lost on their guests.
“What was remarkable was that I didn’t expect this outpouring of attention and excitement over it at the wedding,” he says. “It became a major focal point. There were people taking pictures of it, saying they had never seen anything like it.”
The Biro and Sons team had never done or seen anything like it either.
“It was a really enjoyable experience,” Rick chuckles. “We love expanding our skillset and making something completely new.”